It also isn’t clear that the secular crowd is economically more adept than the Muslim faithful. Socialism has been a hard-to-kick drug for Egypt’s legions of nominally college-educated youth, who came of age expecting government jobs. Capitalism has probably got firmer roots among devout Muslims, where Islamic law teaches a certain respect for private property.
This comes from Reuel Marc Gerecht in the Wall Street Journal. This is something that hawks in Washington (and Santa Cruz) have yet to confront. Interventionists – advocates of robust government programs in foreign affairs – want democracy in the Middle East, though they have yet to define democracy for those of us who are skeptics of overseas intervention.
What we do know is that there are two major currents of thought about governance in the Middle East today: national socialism and Islamism. The national socialists get their education from the universities. The Islamists from religious schools. None are friendly towards democracy.
Here is the upside though: democracy is not the end all be all. Liberty is. In fact, democracy is a byproduct of liberty. By liberty I mean, of course, a regime that protects individual rights (including private property), adheres to a system of checks and balances, and is generally favorable towards free trade. By trying to form alliances with various national socialist or Islamist regimes over the past three or four decades, the United States has continually shot itself in the foot. This is because Washington has made the simple mistake of confusing democracy for freedom.
If hawks are really concerned with helping other people (and it is not clear that they are), then it would be wise on their part to slow down and actually start looking at the factions of the Middle East and what they advocate. One thing has become crystal clear over the past 25 years, though, and that is that virtually no political faction in the Middle East – from Rabat to Tel Aviv to Tehran – is friendly to liberalism. This does not bode well for anybody.
Bombing these regions, and supporting dictators in these regions – in the name of liberalism to boot – only makes this hostility that much worse.